Digging began Saturday in the small park in front of the Doherty School to make way for a loop drive and parking, now that everything on the school’s south and east sides has been felled and cleared for paving.
The sight and sound of a power shovel in there among those beautiful trees, and of the dump trucks roaring up the hill all day filled with topsoil and tree roots, are all proving to closely resemble the nightmare envisioned by the Bartlet Street homeowners.
I will say that someone made an effort to mark off a no-dig space around each tree, but there seems to be little understanding of the space required for an old tree’s root system. And these are downright historic trees, having been planted as part of the original landscaping shortly after the (Central Elementary) school was finished in 1952. (The May 3, 1956, Townsman ran a photo of an Arbor Day event and tree planting tutorial in front of the school; as a fourth- or fifth-grade student there, I attended an earlier Arbor Day planting, of the two trees at the front entrance.)
The little park was designed to be a neighborhood jewel, a beautiful green buffer between school zone and homes, filled with unusual tree species and carpeted in grass — and that it has been for almost 60 years.
I am not alone in finding it heartbreaking to see it desecrated, even if some of the trees survive their root trauma.